Hollywood bombshell Rita Hayworth, a favorite
wartime pinup queen, wears a cigarette well
in this sultry pose from the postwar smash hit Gilda.
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A Collection of Vintage
Cigarette Ads from the 1940s
( via c h i c k e n h e a d )
|... Of Soldiers & Cigarettes|
Cigarettes were one of the few pleasures that an American GI could avail themselves of no matter where they were. Crouching in the bottom of a wet foxhole. Sitting in the belly of a C-47 waiting to jump into the darkness. Riding in the back of a deuce-and-a-half to God-knows-where. There was nothing more relaxing than a cigarette during moments of respite before the return of battle.
In 1941, U. S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had made tobacco a protected crop. Cigarettes, though, were included in GI C-rations, and tobacco companies sent millions of free "butts" to GIs, mostly the popular brands; the people on the home front had to make do with off-brands like Rameses or Pacayunes. Tobacco consumption was so fierce during the war that a shortage developed. By the end of the war, cigarette sales were at an all-time high. In 1942, the American Tobacco Co. (ATC) responded to the dye shortage by changing the Lucky Strike package from green to white. Its slogan: "Lucky Strike Green Has Gone to War." The ad campaign coincided with the U.S. invasion of North Africa. Sales increased by 38%. A year later, Lucky Strike's green/gold pack turned all-white, with a red bull's eye. The war effort needed titanium, contained in Lucky's green ink, and bronze, contained in the gold. (Click on the pack of Luckies below for more information!)
Once France had been liberated, the U.S. Army established a series of camps just outside of the harbor city of Le Havre. Each was named after a popular American cigarette of the period, primarily for security reasons: Lucky Strike, Old Gold, Philip Morris, Twenty Grand, and Chesterfield, among others. In 1944-45, the camps were essentially depots for new arrivals bound for the front lines bordering the West Wall (the "Siegfried Line"). These replacements were desperately needed to bring the American divisions being bloodied in places like the Hürtgen Forest, the Saar, and, later, the Bulge. After V-E day, they were transformed into way stations for men returning home. Like the cigarettes they were named after, they were a pleasant diversion from war no matter how short-lived, though the men who spent time there going in either direction certainly cursed them at the time.
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